The Chinese Diplomat's "the"

Rob Malouf rmalouf at
Mon Aug 30 22:37:20 UTC 2004

On Mon, 2004-08-30 at 11:31, Alexander Gross wrote:
> >  The amazing thing is that this actually works!  If we take a corpus,
> >  strip out all the articles, and use the system to try to recover them,
> >  it's right almost 85% of the time.
> I'm disappointed to see that claims like "it's right almost 85% of the time"
> are still being advanced by MT advocates.

I'm no MT advocate -- my personal feeling is that MT is impossible, but
there are enough people smarter than me who disagree that I hesitate to
say that in public.  The original motive for the paper that I cited was
an adaptive communication device.  It had nothing to do with MT.  And,
in case I didn't make it clear, the "right almost 85% of the time" was
for a narrowly defined task, namely recovering omitted articles in
monolingual English texts. For that task, according to the results they
published, it really is right almost 85% of the time. Unless you are
accusing the authors of fraud, I don't see there is any evidence of
"innumeracy" here, spreading or otherwise.

Absolutely no claims are being made about MT, or how well this program
would perform as a component of an MT system, or really even whether a
program like this is useful for anything.  However, I am making the
claim based on this paper (though the authors might not endorse it) that
most of the time selecting which article to use in a given context isn't
very hard.
Rob Malouf <rmalouf at>
Department of Linguistics and Oriental Languages
San Diego State University

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